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Concise Definitions of Free Radical & Oxidative Stress

What are free radicals?

Free radicals (often referred to as radicals) are atoms, molecules, or ions of unpaired electrons. Free radicals are not byproducts in general. In theoretical chemistry, free radicals are called “open shell” species, while “closed shell” is the term used for species that have only paired electrons. The term “open shell” is more accurate scientific term for free radicals. Free radicals are not limited to species of odd number of electrons, but also include some those of even but unpaired electrons. By convention, metals, metal ions, and their complexes of unpaired electrons are not free radicals. Any inorganic gases or organic species of unpaired electrons are free radicals.

Many antioxidant sellers make funny &
wrong descriptions of free radicals & oxidative stress

Our PhD scientists noticed a huge number of wrong and funny statements of free radicals by  antioxidant sellers and marketers in the internet.  Here are a few examples as quoted:

"Free radicals are simply electrons that are no longer attached to atoms. Instead of circling the nucleus of an atom (much like the earth circles the sun), free radicals are both free and radical enough to go careening through our cells, inflicting damage as they go."   -:)   -:)   -:)......

This funny & wrong statement was copied over, over .... and over again by many people to explain oxidative stress. We conducted a Google search using the quoted phrase "Free radicals are simply electrons that are no longer attached to atoms", and found 312 search results on 3/25/2010, and 689 search results on 1/15/2014.

Other examples of wrong statements on free radicals

"Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules." -:)

"Some molecules are unstable. They do not have an even number of electrons, so they are always searching for an extra electron they can 'steal' to become stable." -:(

"Free radicals are unpaired single electrons, violently reactive like a rapist seeking sex, very damaging physically and emotionally..."-:)   -:)   -:)   -:)   -:)......

"Free radicals are harmful byproducts of metabolism and exposure to environmental pollutants” -:(

“Free radicals are extremely unstable and highly destructive oxygen molecules” -:(


Search Engine Optimization Causes Confusion on Science

These wrong statements on free radicals appear in some websites highly ranked by search engines based on popular key words: "free radical", "oxidative stress", "antioxidant", etc. Most website content writers for professional search engine optimization (SEO) services do not have appropriate scientific knowledge, so that they simply write or copy wrong statements on science, and keep optimizing the wrong staff onto the top spot of search engines. That is exactly how human civilization is distorted in the internet era.